More than a week after Dallas County's Democratic primary for district attorney, the two candidates in the race, former judges Elizabeth Frizell and John Creuzot, are still fighting over who will move on to challenge Republican Faith Johnson in November. On Wednesday, Frizell made her strongest attack yet against the Creuzot campaign, accusing her opponent of harvesting absentee votes in order to secure the election.
As things stand Wednesday afternoon, Creuzot, who's maintained a small lead through early voting and Election Day, and as absentee ballot results have continued to trickle in over the last week, has a 589-vote advantage over Frizell, having received 56,645 of the 112,701 votes cast in the race. He leads by a little more than half a point — 50.26 percent to 49.74 percent.
Given the slim margin, Frizell, whose campaign has been championed by out-of-state criminal justice reform activists like Shaun King, called for a recount last week. While a recount can't be completed until the county certifies the final election results, Frizell seized on a Monday report in The Dallas Morning News
, which says the county is investigating the handling of about 1,200 applications for absentee ballots made before the primary, as evidence something went wrong.
Those 1,200 applications generated 459 ballots that the county board that reviews questionable ballots has looked at. According to Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Andy Chatham, who did not immediately return a call from the Observer,
many of the applications and ballots are being investigated because of when they were turned in.
"Some of the applications were suspicious because they were filled out in September and October of 2017, but not submitted for a mail-in ballot until January and February of 2018," Chatham told the News.
While there are some similarities between the new investigation and the one into potential mail-in ballot fraud during last year's Dallas City Council election — many of the applications in question came from West Dallas in both instances — there is a key difference: This time, no voters have called the county to complain that they received a ballot that didn't apply for, or that they were pressured to turn over a ballot to a third party.
Nevertheless, Frizell accused Creuzot of cheating Wednesday.
"Frizell’s poll watchers have observed boxes of mailin [sic] ballots delivered to the Ballot Review and Signature Verification committees this and last week after Election Day. Hundreds of ballots have been signed by campaign workers of my opponent John Creuzot and they 'assisted' elderly and disabled voters with voting. His campaign workers were observed in the room where the counting of the ballots took place, reviewing the very ballots they 'assisted' with," Frizell said in a statement.
Creuzot's campaign told the Observer
on Wednesday afternoon that neither his nor Frizell's campaign is part of any investigation into voter fraud.
"The Dallas County District Attorney’s office has investigated allegations of mail-in ballot fraud in nearly every municipal, county and state election in the last decade," Creuzot's campaign said. "Judge Creuzot and Judge Frizell were jointly notified today by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office that there is no investigation being conducted into either of their respective campaigns for District Attorney."